Maybe everyone knows to make their own veggie broth. I didn’t until a couple of years ago when I had a pile of veggie scraps and an aha moment. After a couple of quick searches, I decided to toss everything in the slow cooker and see what happened.
AMAZING happened. I ended up with a complex unique broth that I was eager to cook with.
Since then I’ve saved almost all my veggie and fruit scraps in a bag in the freezer, and when it gets full it gets turned into what I lovingly call “trash soup”.
- 1 Tsp. Salt (to Taste)
- A Variety of Raw Vegetable Scraps*
- You can use skins, scraps, and leftover: Zucchini, Greens, Spinach, Okra, Apples, Tomatoes, Asparagus, Artichoke, Peas, Green Beans, Onions, Cabbage, Broccoli, Leeks, Garlic, Peppers, Carrot, Mushroom Stems, Herbs…. almost anything.
- *Make sure to only use ingredients that you COULD eat fresh. Nothing dirty, slimy, moldy, etc. A little soft is fine. The key to the best broth is variety. Try not to use too much of anything with a strong flavor- but remember that this is a low pressure process. If it doesn’t turn out, no big deal!
- Put all your scraps in a slow cooker and cover with water.
- Sprinkle salt over the mixture and mix it slightly with a spoon.
- Put crock pot on “low” and leave overnight– 10-20 hours– checking occasionally for taste and to stir gently.
- Ladle broth over a strainer to separate out vegetable scraps and broth.
- OPTIONAL: Simmer the broth on Med/High to condense the soup for freezing. Allow to cool completely before placing in a container or ziplock bag, and freeze until you’re ready. (Make sure to label your container with tasting notes and a date.)
Make sure your scraps are clean and in relatively small pieces, then dump them into a medium crock pot,
Cover the crock pot, set it on “low” and let it do its thing through the evening and overnight. (It’s good to taste the broth, and stir occasionally to make sure everything is going well. If it starts to get bitter you can either stop the process, or give it some more time to possible cook itself out.)
After about 10-20 hours your concoction will look more like this:
Optional: If you want to save the broth for another day, you might find it useful to condense and freeze it. To do this, put your broth in a small pot and simmer on medium-high under a fan.
Excess water will be released as steam, and after a while you’ll have a thicker, darker condensed broth. (This process can take some time, so I usually plan to do dishes, cleaning, or other kitchen activities while I wait.) Take the pan off the heat. As your broth is cooling, do a final tasting and label your container (or ziplock bag) with tasting notes and a date.
Then simply pour the cool broth into your container and freeze it for the perfect recipe. The more broths you make, the more you’ll notice differences in their flavor- making store bought broth seem ludicrous!
What I’ve Learned
•I’ve said it before, but variety is really key here. I usually leave a small collection of scraps in my freezer bag for the next broth, rather than using too much of one flavor.
•You may be an onion and garlic maniac, but don’t make a broth out of just those. Other veggies are necessary to cut the bitterness of over-extracted onions. Trust me.
•Good advice from a friend- “If the broth doesn’t taste good, throw it away. Don’t let it ruin a meal.” If your broth turns out weird or bitter, it’s not the end of the world. Try again next time!
•Try out a parmesan rind sometime, but otherwise avoid oils.
•Mellow fruits (like apples) make for a carmelly broth that would be lovely in a lot of dishes. Bolder fruits (cherries, berries, citrus) are best used in very small quantities.
•Some vegetables are stronger than others- broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cabbage can take over a broth completely. I don’t mind, but maybe you do?